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Shaloh House Jewish Day School in Brighton, Mass

Rabbi Shlomo Noginski’s story could have ended tragically, but he said due to a miracle, it didn’t. The 41-year-old father of 12 children, ages one to 20, knew when he was attacked last week that his kids could have been orphaned. Noginski, who came to Brighton from Kfar Chabad in central Israel two years ago, had faith that he would survive what his attacker had in store.

In a phone interview, he said he first thought the man was trying to steal his car and he offered his keys. The man took out a gun and pointed it at him.

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“It was a miracle he didn’t use it,” Noginski said. The attack took place in front of the Shaloh House, where a Jewish summer camp with about 100 children was in session.

“I heard that when he was arrested, he pointed his gun at police too,” Noginski said. He said it was clear the man wanted to kidnap him and wanted him to drive the car, so he ran to the street away from the camp.

“I didn’t want any child, any rebbe or any counselor to have to deal with this,” he said. “I had emunah in Hashem and it gave me strength.”

When he ran into the street, he saw another man and tried to alert him to the attack. At that point, the attacker put the gun away but pulled out a knife.

“Once he took out the knife, he had death in his eyes and it was clear he wanted to kill me,” Noginski said. “He screamed something at me but I didn’t understand what he was saying. I was just focusing on the knife and trying to make sure he wouldn’t injure me too badly. He tried to stab me in my heart, my gut and my neck so I would bleed out. He kept stabbing me without stopping. I was successful in surviving because even though he got me in the stomach and my ribs and my hand, the cuts were not deep because I kept him at a bit of distance. I have a lot of cuts on my hand and my left arm – the left arm was blocking the knife. I could see in his eyes he wanted to kill me but I had faith that Hashem was guarding me and I would be okay.”

“People ask me if training saved me, G-d saved me,” he said, adding that he battled the attacker for about 10 minutes. “This guy had a gun and a knife, it was clearly a miracle from God. Many things could have gone wrong. God masks miracles to make it seem like it is part of the natural world but this was a miracle.”

The attacker was identified by police as Khaled Awad, 24.

Noginski said that while others have called him as hero, “I don’t think I’m a hero.”

He said he was happy to have the zechus (merit) to be able to deal with the situation, as opposed to what might have happened if the attacker approached someone who may have made a wrong move which somehow led to a tragedy. He said most people would freeze or panic in such a situation and not know what to do, but he cited a story of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe who was a prisoner in Russia for teaching Judaism. Someone pulled a gun and said that a gun causes everybody to talk. The Rebbe responded that those who believe in G-d know that there is this world and the next world and are not afraid of a gun.

Despite reports of attacks against Jews across America, the rabbi said he didn’t think it would happen in his neighborhood. But he said he doesn’t believe people in the community of Brighton are antisemitic. He said the attacker was a man illegally staying on an expired visa from Egypt.

He said it was obviously a hate crime and an anti-Semitic attack even if it had not yet officially been declared one and that his center would have more security but that there no need for panic or hysteria.

Had he done nothing, he added, he might have been stabbed 100 times instead of eight times.

Noginski said he was given medication at the hospital to deal with the pain. “My wife was worried,” he said, “but thank G-d we are strong people.”

The rabbi said that from everything bad, you must find something good and from every darkness, you must find light.

For this reason, he said since he was stabbed eight times, he will train eight Chabad emissaries.

“This is our response to this act of terror,” he said.

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Alan has written for many papers, including The Jewish Week, The Journal News, The New York Post, Tablet and others.
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